Let’s be honest here. The end of the year is rapidly approaching, and it’s possible you’re holding on to your last bit of sanity. You’ve got grades to finalize, meetings to attend, students who are DONE, and you just want to make it to summer without losing your mind. Here are eight of my favorite end-of-year activities for middle school ELA to keep your kiddos engaged and focused.
Thought Shots is a fun activity in which students create inner monologue for people and/or animals featured in photographs. This is a great way for them to practice basic punctuation, capitalization, and sentence structure skills while also making inferences using clues from the photos. Your job is to outline which skills you want students to demonstrate in each slide. This outline becomes your rubric for easy assessment if needed. Grab the thought shots activity. Do your students need more practice with sentence structures? Try these sorting activities.
We all realize the importance of music to our students. Just one song can bring back memories or put them in a mood. Ask students to compile a list of songs they might listen to on a trip to the beach or just hanging out with friends this summer. You could also have them choose songs that relate to the school year. Finish up the activity by with writing when students explain why they included each song and its significance on the playlist. Use neon colored index cards for some extra summer vibes!
Progressive stories are easy to set up and provide a high level of engagement and buy-in from students. The idea is that each student begins with a piece of paper or document, writes the beginning of a story for a certain amount of time, and then passes it to the person to their right or shares it with the next person in the lineup to continue the story. Do this several times until the stories are complete. You’ll want to start by grouping students in either rows, around a table, or in breakout rooms. Display a photo picture prompt with a starter sentence you provide. Here’s a free picture prompt for you to use. When the story comes back to the original owner, students share their stories. You’ll want to prepare for lots of smiles and laughs because these turn out great.
We all love games, and your students do, too! An end-of-year writing activity puts the power of persuasion into your student's hands. Ask them to write a review for an online game of their choice from a list of commonly approved school game sites, rate the game, and write a short summary. Check out the Game Review Resource. Kids definitely have an opinion on what they do and don't like, so this assignment is a big hit!
Another student favorite is digital memory books. My kids love recording special memories with text, images, and photos in digital format. In this activity, students list favorites, reflect on things like greatest accomplishments and biggest obstacles, and set goals for the future. It’s part of my end-of-year digital bundle which also includes a grammar scavenger hunt and escape room! No technology or looking for a paper copy that students can pass around for autographs? I’ve got you covered with a printable version.
An A-Z activity is perfect and can be used in several different ways to meet your classroom needs. Students create a Google Slides presentation to show what they’ve learned using the letters of the alphabet. A twist on this idea is to ask students to choose an acronym (instead of the entire alphabet) such as their topic or one you assign.
One of my favorites is to let students choose a topic of interest for independent study. I’m always surprised at the different ideas they choose when given the option to pick something they want to learn more about. And since this isn’t a “traditional” research paper, they are free to explore and learn without all the formatting fuss. The great news for you is that you won’t be burdened with laboring through pages of research. It’s the end of the year, after all.
Another idea is to ask students to choose their favorite novel of the year and include facts and information in the alphabet format.
A final way to use this activity involves students listing everything they’ve learned during the year in the A-Z format.
If you’ve heard of Starbucks or cafe mode, then you get why this is my go-to for some quiet downtime. The idea is students choose an activity like journaling, independent reading, puzzles, or coloring to work on as if they are in a coffee shop. Download and print out free coloring pages HERE! My rules for cafe mode are: wear headphones for personal music, choose preferred seating, and bring a drink. If students don’t own headphones, I play “Coffee Shop Noise for Studying” on Spotify. You can search YouTube and find similar coffee shop music to play. Set clear expectations for behavior ahead of time for this to be successful.
Digital Escape Rooms
Are you and your students simply "over it" at the end of the year? What you need is a low-prep activity to keep your kids engaged and having fun while reviewing ELA skills like reading comprehension, parts of speech, figurative language, and Greek and Latin roots. No worries if your admin walks in. Kids are actually practicing standards-based skills you taught during the year. I’ll let you in on a little secret... end-of-year escape room is my weapon against May madness!
I'd love to hear which of these is your favorite? Do you have an activity that is a go-to each year?
Here's wishing you the best end of year with your students and a wonderful summer break!
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